With dedications to Derek Bailey and Malcolm X, the Unlistenable Years catalogues an unruly outfit called the Toy Killers biting at the ass-end of NYC No Wave in their own inimitable way. Led by free-bashers Charles K. Noyes and M.E. Miller (who cut their teeth on early Material and Zorn sessions), the Killers wrecked halls and employed a veritable who's who in 80s Downtown that included Nicky Skopelitis, Arto Lindsay, Wayne Horvitz, Elliott Sharp and Zorn (who's duck calls never sounded so at home). Primitive, brutal, banned from Folk City for almost killing audience members with a precision glasspane shattering, this is nasty stuff that churns with creative sickness and far less order than their DNA and Mars compadres, but has no less power. Nice and overdue look back courtesy Weasel Walter's UgExplode label. "I'm Embarrassed To Be An American Girl/Sex Carp" (Real Audio), "Where Do We Get the $ To Save Our Children?" (Real Audio)
Last year WFMU had its official meet-and-greet with Baltimore Artschooldropoutcore combo Lo ModA, whose excellent Gospel Store Front disc got lot of airplay, some MP3s posted on Beware of the Blog, and a live session on Liz Berg's show. It's good to see them back with Replica Watches (Creative Capitalism label/publishing imprint), which continues the trail of tense, minimalist pop that falls somewhere between the Moles and Pere Ubu. Sparse organ swells, ominously crossed rhythms and percussive, scratchy guitar and viola tango around Lo ModA's sound, with slightly Eastern European leanings that make me think of the late SF artrock combo Zmrzlina. Totally boss live (and hopefully on a somewhat sprawling stage, cuz there's a bunch of 'em.) "Happy Power Energy" (MP3).
Not sure exactly who constitutes the line-up of Cincinnati's Wild Gunmen, nor do emails back and forth with the band add much illumination besides the fact they want us to call them "Neo-Folk Post Industrial Noise", note that they're not photogenic, don't play out, probably want to quit music as soon as possible, and date back to 2005 or "as old as the Hershey Bar in your dad's back pocket." Their no-fi Volume One CD (Mad Monk) is quite a hoe-down though, somewhere between the Holy Modal Rounders, Suckdog, and Magik Markers headed straight for an episode of A&E's Intervention; one of the episodes you know ain't gonna turn out right at the end where they get on a plane with the happy music to go to rehab. One -take-or-nothing freeform string plonk, sideways metronome fiddle sawing, tons of arguing between the female and male members of the band. The gal singer is alternately begging for salvation or sex and drugs, but almost in a way that laughs at the solemnity of Spacemen 3 records (and everyone else); they're from Ohio, they cover Prince's "Darling Nikki" and Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" and they don't give a rat's ass about you, me, or your discovery of Henry Flynt. MP3's: Untitled #1, Untitled #2, Untitled #3.
Bombed-out reggae and dub reworkings are something I rarely get tired of but haven't heard a whole lot of after a big wave of them hit a couple years back, so when Strategy's new 7" on Entracte hit the deck it felt on spot immediately. Based around Portland DJ and experimentalist Paul Dickow, this one rips out of the speakers less subtly than his other recordings on Kranky though in truth less assaultive though than say, Bloodclot Gangsta Youth. "Noise Tape Reggae" falls more under the electroacoustic angle that characterizes many of this fine UK label's releases, but the formula is pure and perfect: simple manipulated tapes juxtaposed with analog glop. Do yourself a favor and dive into this label, for a while we were getting their releases in these white plastic hospital-waste looking bags. You'll find some familiar stuff in the roster (Sudden Infant, Carlos Giffoni, Big City Orchestra, Idea Fire Company) but the unfamiliar titles have all delivered some inventive noise and carried the electroacoustic ball itself a buncha yards down the field. "Noise Tape Reggae" (Real Audio)
If all the noise is making you ready to reach for your Madman Across the Water, you can do a lot worse than checking out Charlemagne's Big Thaw (Ba Da Bing label), the latest and greatest from west-coast songsmith Utrillo Kushner, who toted the skins and sweated the seat as a member of Comets On Fire. Don't expect any High Rise-style blowouts here though, Colossal Yes focuses on sublime 70's piano-driven softpop; it's pure comfort sounds and top notch songcraft with a well-informed AOR past evocation and some Bill Fay worship to boot. You can't help but get sucked in, and neither can three of his Comets bandmates on "Permafrost Drip" who mess it around like the Band backing Dave Brubeck. "They Feast On Us/We Feed On Them" (MP3)